It's no coincidence that jobs and people flock to states where citizens enjoy the highest degree of freedom to work, save, and invest, according to a recent study from Clemson University.

Economists studied all 50 states and ranked each according to its tax and regulatory burdens, spending levels, and other criteria. They found that states with the fewest government barriers to job creation were also the most prosperous.

Idaho placed first in overall economic freedom, with low taxes, minimal regulation, and a per capita tax burden half that of New York, which ranked 50th in the survey.

Idaho's policy of freedom has been rewarded. From 1990 to 1997, its population jumped by nearly 17 percent while joblessness in the state plunged nearly four percent below the national average.

By contrast, high-tax New York struggled just to maintain its current population, which suffers from unemployment 15 percent higher than the national average.

Where did Michigan rank? Our growing economy, spurred by recent tax cuts, is still less free than 26 other states.

The lesson for policy makers in Michigan and elsewhere is clear: Cut taxes, regulations, and other barriers to growth, and free citizens will build prosperity.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.